All entries by this author

Showalter on Eagleton *

Jan 20th, 2004 | Filed by

Theory and nontheory. Nontheory? You know, poems, stories, plays.… Read the rest

Fairy Tales Equate Beauty with Goodness *

Jan 20th, 2004 | Filed by

Not a news flash, but worth pointing out all the same.… Read the rest

National Book Critics Circle Nominations *

Jan 20th, 2004 | Filed by

Scott McLemee receives Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.… Read the rest

Not all Skepticism is Good Skepticism *

Jan 19th, 2004 | Filed by

Carl Zimmer on how extinction skeptics get it wrong.… Read the rest

Is the Self a Narrative? *

Jan 19th, 2004 | Filed by

No, there are other ways to think about it, says Galen Strawson.… Read the rest

Cot Death Trials Review *

Jan 19th, 2004 | Filed by

258 cases of parents found guilty of killing a child to be reviewed.… Read the rest

Eat Your Sugar

Jan 18th, 2004 7:24 pm | By

This sounds familiar, doesn’t it? We’ve read articles like this before? Only a few days ago in fact? The subject does seem to keep coming up. The Bush administration and profit-making entities on the one hand, and scientific advice and knowledge on the other. Bulldozers make better habitats than rivers do; wetlands pollute; academic scientists who receive grants should be kept off federal peer review panels while scientists with ties to profit-making entities should not. Day is night, up is down, black is red. Do we begin to detect a pattern here?

The President insists fighting fat is a matter for the individual, not the state. But today The Observer reveals how he and fellow senators have received hundreds

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Grayling on Jung *

Jan 18th, 2004 | Filed by

The pseudo-scientific psychological theories of Freud and Jung are of little interest now.… Read the rest

Jung’s Concepts Empirical not Speculative? *

Jan 18th, 2004 | Filed by

Hunger for meaning not always compatible with wish to be a scientist.… Read the rest

Science and Profit Collide Again *

Jan 18th, 2004 | Filed by

WHO criticizes Bush administration for letting sugar lobby block efforts against obesity.… Read the rest

Hands Off Lacan!

Jan 17th, 2004 8:46 pm | By

This is quite an amusing piece. Albeit irritating. So much rhetoric, so much slippery use of emotowords, so much vagueness where precision is needed – all to protect the heritage of Freud and Lacan. Why, one has to wonder. What is it about Freud that makes people one would think ought to know better, cling so fiercely? I suppose I could postulate some sort of psychoanalytic answer, but would that tell us anything?

“When they speak of ‘professionalising’ people whose business is human misery; when they speak of ‘evaluating’ needs and results; when they try to appoint ‘super-prefects’ of the soul, grand inquisitors of human sadness – it is to hard not to agree that psychoanalysis is in the

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The Poetics of History 2

Jan 17th, 2004 5:48 pm | By

My first comment on this subject has prompted some comments that suggest a lot of further comments (I’m in a permanent state of Infinite Regress here: everything I write seems to suggest several hundred more things I could write) and subjects to look into further. Empathy; the relationship of research to teaching; other minds and solipsism; the tendency to value emotional stances like empathy over ‘cooler’ more cognitive commitments to justice or equality; and so on.

And there is also this article in the New Yorker about a book of history and a play, Thucydides’ History and Euripides’ Medea.

To describe this war in all its complexity, Thucydides had to invent a new way of writing history. In his

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Disgust Quiz *

Jan 17th, 2004 | Filed by

A companion exercise to Taboo. Good clean fun.… Read the rest

‘Middle-Earth is the Kingdom of Kitsch’ *

Jan 17th, 2004 | Filed by

Perpetual childhood, emotion on the cheap, sincere sentimentalism.… Read the rest

‘Too Early’ for Women in Afghanistan *

Jan 17th, 2004 | Filed by

‘We are opposed to women singing and dancing,’ Supreme Court says.… Read the rest

Graduate School and its Discontents

Jan 16th, 2004 9:04 pm | By

Invisible Adjunct has another good comment thread going. Remember that interesting (and often symptomatic) thread about the MLA a few weeks ago? There have been interesting ones since, and now there’s an especially interesting one. Well I say that because of the two last posts (last at the moment, last when I saw the thread), 10 and 11. Number 10:

In the first year of graduate school in archaeology we spent so much time learning about post-modernist theaory and how archaeology could not really tell you about the past (it could only reveal your current political views on power relationships) that by the end of the year my professors convinced me that there was no reason to continue my studies

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Framing and ‘Tax Relief’ *

Jan 16th, 2004 | Filed by

Control the definition and the game is yours.… Read the rest

Noah’s Flood Made the Grand Canyon *

Jan 16th, 2004 | Filed by

Book offering Biblical version of geology for sale in National Park shop.… Read the rest

The Poetics of History

Jan 15th, 2004 9:14 pm | By

There was an interesting subject under discussion at Cliopatria yesterday and this morning – history as defamiliarization, poetics and history, the difference between history and fiction. The whole subject touches on a lot of difficult, knotty questions – other minds; the reliability or otherwise of testimony, autobiography, narrative – of what people recount about their own experiences; empathy; imagination; the general and the particular, the abstract and the concrete – and so on. Meta-questions.

I wondered about the much-discussed idea that fiction can teach empathy in a way that more earth-bound, or factual, or evidence-tethered fields cannot. That novelists have a special imaginative faculty which enables them to show what it’s like to be Someone Else so compellingly that we … Read the rest

Brought to You By

Jan 15th, 2004 7:07 pm | By

This is a disgusting item in the Washington Post. It sounds good at first – but then it’s meant to. And at second it doesn’t sound good at all.

The administration proposal, which is open for comment from federal agencies through Friday and could take effect in the next few months, would block the adoption of new federal regulations unless the science being used to justify them passes muster with a centralized peer review process that would be overseen by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

It’s those last seven words that give the game away – along with the word ‘centralized’ perhaps. Peer review is one thing, ‘centralized’ peer review is another, and ‘centralized’ peer review overseen … Read the rest